Duke ITAC - April 20, 2017 Minutes

Duke ITAC - April 20, 2017 Minutes

4:00 - 4:05 – Announcements

  • Welcome new stenographers (Daisy Magnus-Aryitey, Debrah Suggs)

June 12-14: Duke Learning Technology workshop.  Participants will come from across the country.  You’re invited.  The idea is to discuss and design next-generation learning technologies for Duke.

May 5-7: Upcoming 3D printing conference is sold out.  240 people are signed up, after an initial ceiling of 150.  There’s international participation as well as a large turnout from K-12.

4:05- 4:20 – DukeCard East Campus Access Experiment: Joe Gonzalez (10 minute presentation, 5 minute discussion)

What it is:   A new contactless “tap” technology was installed in all the dorms on East Campus in 2016 that allows students to enter simply by tapping their DukeCard to the reader.  Residents in Giles also tested electronic, hotel-style locks on interior residential rooms.   Incoming freshman received new contactless DukeCards for use throughout East Campus that can also be swiped at all locations.

Why it’s relevant: This technology paves the way for more options such as mobile apps and wearable credentials, replacing the need for traditional keys.  Joe will provide an overview of the project from a Housing, Dining, and Residence Life perspective.

This agenda item was deferred.

4:20- 4:50 – Graduate Student Presentation – State of IT, Lee Edsall (30 minutes)

What it is:  ITAC Student Representatives from the Duke Graduate & Professional Student Council will present on the state of IT from their perspective.

Why it’s relevant:  Feedback from students allows IT representatives to hear firsthand the challenges that students face on a regular basis.  This information can help set goals and priorities for various IT projects.

Survey goals and design:

We hoped that a short survey would result in lots of response.  The survey focused on a few areas of OIT services and offerings, based on ITAC discussions and observations and discussions from other students.

We didn’t ask about site licensed software or the computing clusters.

For future surveys, I recommend trying this in late fall instead of at the end of the year.  This could also be designed in conjunction with ITAC.  Additional surveys could focus on specific areas of interest.

There’s room to gather more information about Duke Box.  About 25% of respondents don’t use it, but we don’t have information as to why.

There was respondent interest in using ePrint in the Research Drive buildings (School of Medicine, basic sciences).  Also, in adding the Duke University wireless networks to these same buildings alongside the Duke Medicine “guest” and “clubs” networks.  (Some respondents named the “DUKE” network specifically.)

The survey was sent to all graduate and professional students.  We received only 59 responses.  Unhappy responses were very vocal.

Summary of responses – the bad news

WiFi

About 25% of responses were dissatisfied.

Issues were identified in certain buildings/areas by multiple respondents.

Summary of responses – the good news

Overall, people are satisfied.

More than half have gotten help from the service desk and only 3 were somewhat dissatisfied.  About the same number used the Link, phone contact, and chat.

Most feedback was praise or constructive, not negative.

OIT Service Desk

Have you gotten help?

How have you gotten help?

How satisfied?

In my experience, service from the service desk is the biggest source of complaints.  In this survey, about 70% were satisfied with their service.

Duke email

How do you access it?

How satisfied are you with Office 365 webmail?

The majority use either Office 365 webmail or the Office desktop client.  A few use other desktop clients, and some forward to Gmail.  None of the respondents said they didn’t use Duke email.

Some people were very satisfied, but there was a pretty high number that was dissatisfied.

Duke Box

Do you use it?

I recommend a followup survey to gauge satisfaction and identify any issues, weaknesses, or drawbacks.

Only a few people have never heard of this service.

ePrint

How often are you using it?

This service is heavily utilized by a majority of respondents.

Wifi connectivity

How satisfied are you?

Are there any places that are problematic?

In my experience, the second biggest source of complaints is connectivity (either wifi or cellular), and Wifi users are more aware of problem areas than the networking department.

Overall, most users are satisfied.  Those who reported problems identified specific areas.

General feedback

There were a number of comments on specific services, both praise and opportunities for change.

Questions and Discussion

4:50- 5:05 – Migrating Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) Courseware Environments to VM-manage, Mark McCahill, Evan Levine (10 minute presentation, 5 minute discussion)

What it is:  OIT has provided short term virtual machine (VM) reservations for coursework with the VCL system for the last 8 years, but given the declining use of VCL and upgrades required to support Windows 10, we are rethinking this strategy. OIT plans to migrate VCL's functions into the VM-manage system where we provide similar services: long term (semester long) virtual machine reservations and containerized environments such as RStudio and Jupyter notebooks. As part of the migration, the VM-manage web site user interface is being updated, and Windows 10 virtual machine reservations will be available via VM-manage.

Why it’s relevant:  The VCL to VM-manage migration is planned to begin once Spring semester ends, and OIT will assist those who create or maintain template images for VCL in moving to a new automated build process for creating and updating the templates. The automated process will simplify template updates when system and security patches are needed, and also presents the possibility of repurposing the environments in research-oriented contexts such as the Research Toolkits system.

Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) is focused on short-term reservations.  This was originally developed at NC State, and Duke added Shibboleth and VMware provisioning.

Lately reservations have been declining, probably because people are using other services.

VM-Manage offers semester-long reservations, initially in support of Innovation Co-Lab projects.  Courses with long-term projects have also adopted this.  We have also extended this to support web-based apps in Docker containers.  (Docker containers provide web applications.)

https://vm-manage.oit.duke.edu

Container usage is going up, and virtual machine usage is holding steady.

If I’m looking at intensity of use, I can compare VM-Manage Docker sessions with VCL sessions.  Docker is growing; VCL is shrinking.

VCL users have always wanted long-term, persistent reservations.  Windows 10 isn’t supported due incompatibilities with the underlying service.  Also, updates to virtual machine images (for security and operating system updates) are manual.  We need to automate application installs.

Our plan: migrate VCL to VM-Manage.  We’ll move to a semester-long reservation model for everything.  At the end of the semester, we’ll ask if you still need access, and if you don’t, we will recycle it.

We’ll revisit and modernize the VM-Manage user interface, and automate the build process to make management easier.  We’ll also look for options for web-based apps delivered via Docker containers instead of dedicated virtual machines.

About a third of the active applications are owned by OIT, and we’ll manage them.  For the others, we’ll reach out to departmental contacts who developed these originally; about 12-16 need to be migrated.

We want to make the most-used functions easier to find and use in the user interface.  Duke Web Services is helping redesign the site and user experience.

[Demo of user interface.]

Migration strategy

We’ll work with current image owners to migrate their environments to VM-Manage.  Some VM environments may become Docker containers, and as each VCL environment is migrated, we’ll remove it from VCL.  The migrations will begin after spring 2017, and VCL will be retired once all images have been migrated.

Questions and Discussion

Q: Is resource efficiency just as good with Windows virtual machines in VM-Manage as with the Linux VMs?

A: We think so.

It’s good to make it easy for users to report opportunities for user interface improvements.

Q: How many VMs or containers can you have?

A: One VM per person usually, and any number of Docker containers.  Containers are more efficient.

It might be worth allowing one Linux VM and one Windows VM.

5:05- 5:30 – Celebration